The Self-Made Man: Ethan Diamond

It’s amazing how much the idea of finding music online has developed?and improved?over the past decade. I still remember clawing through crappy, slow-loading Myspace profiles, or band webpages full of terrible layout choices and 30-second song samples. Or, which wasn’t much different from outright piracy a lot of the time.

Fortunately, a guy named Ethan Diamond saw fit to create Bandcamp in 2008 and make that whole process way easier, and help underground/independent music at the same time. That’s why he’s this week’s Self Made Man.

Ethan worked at Yahoo for seven years?he was one of original developers of Oddpost?before leaving to concentrate on Bandcamp. The idea came to him when he was trying to figure out yet another unresponsive band website, and wondered if he could build something that would help them sell more music and reach more people. A musician himself, Ethan understood that a lot of musicians don’t have the time to learn how to build, much less maintain, a functional website, hence their devotion to Myspace.

With all that in mind, Ethan launched Bandcamp in 2008. Intending it to be more than just an mp3 store for bands, he built the site for independent artists to use as a promotional platform, with flexible pricing structures, customizable microsites for bands who use the service, full integration with social media sites, and high search engine visibility (borrowing an idea from lyric sits, Ethan made sure each track and album got its own unique URL).

Ethan also made sure Bandcamp’s cut of their artists’ sales was reasonable. As of right now, they get 10% of music sales over $5,000 (and 15% of sales below that number), which is way better than iTunes’ 30% cut. Even artists who used sites like CDBaby for distribution lost 9% before the sites they fed to (usually iTunes) took their cut on top of that.

By comparison, Bandcamp is pretty reasonable, which is the whole idea. Ethan told Businessweek</> that he ?wanted the entire focus of this to be on helping artists be financially successful,? and judging by the site’s growing popularity among independent musicians, he’s on the right track. Amanda Palmer and Sufjan Stevens have both championed Bandcamp, and Palmer told the NY Daily News that ?Bandcamp is built specifically for musicians to easily hawk their wares with a pay-what-you-can philosophy, which is exactly what DIY musicians like me need.???Here’s a clip of Ethan Diamond speaking at the Scion Music(Less) Music Conference back in 2011, in which he talks more about Bandcamp’s business model and overall vision. If you’re an entrepreneur who wants to couple personal success with serving a community in a vital, much-needed way, you’ll watch this.


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About Dave Kiefaber Dave Kiefaber is a Baltimore-based writer who regularly contributes to Adfreak and the Gettysburg Times. His personal website is at

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